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January 4, 2011

How Do You Decide on Your Author Brand? – Part One

Venetian Mask

I’m being interviewed over at Rachel Firasek’s blog today.  Me!  I’m marking this day on the calendar for sure.  However, before sending you over there, I wanted to share with you some thoughts about this “branding” thing authors have to keep in mind now.

Yesterday, Roni Loren (my friend from RWA and Twitter) posted an interesting article at Sierra Godfrey’s blog (another Twitter friend—No, I don’t live on Twitter, why do you ask?) about creating an author brand.   She said:

[T]the only way to create an effective brand [is] to be genuinely yourself. People want to get to know YOU, the person.

And that’s absolutely true.  However, we’re all made of multiple facets—spouse/ parent/sibling/child/boss/employee/friend/customer.  Like the characters in books, we wear masks, showing only parts of our personality.  We act differently at work than at home, or whether we’re with our close friends or distant relatives.  Yet those masks are all genuinely us.

We’re constantly choosing which aspects of ourselves to reveal with everything we do.  Those choices shape others’ impressions of us.  And in the case of authors (or others who have a public persona that is effectively a business) those choices shape others’ impressions of our brand.

The more conscious you become of these decisions and the more you pay attention to what you’re putting out in the world, the more you control your brand.  Every blog post or comment, every Facebook status update, and every tweet tells others what’s important to us and how we think.

This concept was high in my thoughts recently as I prepared my guest post for Rachel.  I’m a very private person, so I don’t give details about my family or day job online.  But as an author, I’m expected to be a “public” person.  How can I balance those aspects?

When Rachel asked to interview me for her blog, my first reaction was “why me?”  After all, I’m not yet published.  I don’t even have an agent.  My second reaction was “what the heck am I going to say?”  It ended up being good practice for how to be (hopefully) interesting while still keeping things in line with my comfort factor.  You’ll be the judge of how well I did.

Now you can go check out my interview over at Rachel Firasek’s blog…but don’t forget to come back to comment here. And come back here on Thursday for Part Two.

Do you consciously pay attention to your online activities and how they might affect your brand?  Do you think you should?  Or is that too much work for you?

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39 Comments on "How Do You Decide on Your Author Brand? – Part One"

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Jason
Jason

Nice piece here, Jami. Especially the part about the different personalities we show everywhere we go.

I thought your day job was Twitter? I’m confused now. 🙂

Tony Noland

I like your approach here. Some folks put every aspect of themselves out there. What results is a more muddled picture than they intend.

CMStewart

Looks like you are well on your way to developing your author brand- congratulations!

Enjoyed reading the interview, hope to read more of them. 🙂

Murphy

Wow Jami! Great interview! Yikes! I just posted a new blog on my site that deals with sex, death and embarrassment…uh oh, I better start paying attention to my brand. 😉

Murphy

Roni Loren

Thanks for the shout out! : )

I agree that we all have multiple facets, but I also think it’s not necessary to only show the “writer” side to the world as an author. People want to know we’re human and relatable. Yes, be professional by being respectful and not insulting others’ books or bashing the industry, etc. But I don’t think that means only being “the writer” online in the way you would have to be “the lawyer” or “the teacher” or whatever at your day job. It’ll come across as one-dimensional.

I like to hear authors tweet about their lives and every day things like parenting or marriage, whatever–bonus if they are funny about it. I think there are ways to protect privacy by not saying family members’ names and such (I’m a private person too) while still being well-rounded and relatable to others. JMHO : )

Todd Moody

Great interview Jami! You have a very friendly demeanor online and that makes for good branding!

I have always been conscious of my online presence and what I put out there. Always careful, even in emails, not to say anything that might come back to haunt me later, but I’ve been online since around 1988 and have learned from others bad experiences. Trying to teach my children to be careful and understanding the pitfalls of too much openness or just plain poor judgement has also helped educate me. great topic!

A.J. Zaethe
A.J. Zaethe

Your interview was fun and interesting. And you remind me of…well…me! When it comes to what inspires. I feel that same way, that hopefully, what I write will touch someone and that energy will flow into another from what they have experienced in my novel. Nice to know there are others.

Suzanne Johnson

So true, Jami! It’s a hard decision, how much of that personal “mask” to let down, especially online. And now I’m off to read your interview!

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[…] How Do You Decide on Author Brand–Part One by Paranormal Author Jami Gold […]

Kay Whitby
Kay Whitby
Definitely. My biggest concern when it comes to building an online identity, both as an individual and a potential freelancer, is safety. As a single woman in a city with a decent(ly high) crime rate, I am not in any hurry to tell strangers my living situation, real name, general activities, or even my city itself — or at least not concurrently. Things are made even more complicated because I have a very unique name and am thus easy to find in a phone book. So what do I do? Do I offer my real name but not my location? But I want to help spread local events and be a part of my city’s online community. Okay, so I use a pen name. But wait, suddenly there’s legal and financial complications when it comes to payments, and a lot of the time people looking to do business just won’t trust someone who won’t give them their real name. (I’m pretty sure this is the point where an agent becomes absolutely necessary. Except I can’t afford one… so maybe I shouldn’t reveal my location after all. Ad nauseum.) An additional problem is that, with the way a lot of social media is structured these days, you have to lie excessively just to create an account that won’t potentially clue strangers in to where you live and/or what you do. And if you build up enough lies, it can be difficult to keep track of them all — especially if new… Read more »
Susan Bischoff

I guess I have some keywords in my head of how I’d like people to think of me. They’re me, they’re honest, some come very naturally (and are actually weaknesses but they’re real things with which I struggle), and some are things I consciously strive to do or be. Because they’re part of who I am all the time, I guess I don’t often think: Ok, need to write a post to promote branding keyword aspect A.

When I do think about them, it’s more often in situations where I’m concerned about being Author Behaving Badly and have to ask myself: is leaving this comment or getting involved in this discussion something that fits in with the me I want to be? Is this something I want to be known for? Are these other commenters people I want to notice me and follow me home?

And any blog post of mine that I think may be too ranty, whiny, or self-disclosing, I send to my crit partner before I post it.

Tahlia Newland

I identify with this totally. I’m always concerned that if I go too far into my spiritual/philosophical ideas that I might turn off some people, but at the same time, my investigation into these areas is a large part of who I am. If I don’t share it am I not sharing something that others may find interesting? If I do share it, will some who will actually really enjoy Lethal Inheritance get turned off before they try?

That’s my dilema. Any suggestions anyone?

CMStewart

I have very strong opinions about certain political issues and about organized religion, and those opinions absolutely help shape my fiction. My advice (as an aspiring novelist) is don’t worry about going too far. Don’t preach or over-explain, just simply write from your core. Everybody has an audience waiting . .

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[…] we talked about last time, we all have different facets to our personality.  We show some more than others, but they are all […]

Tahlia Newland

Thanks for your persepctive CM. Yuk, I hate preaching. For me there’s nothing to preach about anyway, my novel reflects my world view but it’s not religious. There’s not a religious word in it.

My mother is a Christian – I’m not – and she and her friends are very quick to jump on anything that they consider goes against the church. I guess I don’t want people like that to get the wrong idea, but hell, did Harry Potter suffer because masses of Christians refused to let their kids read it?

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[…] Gold’s How Do You Decide On Your Author Brand? – Part 1 and Part […]

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[…] at two different blogs.  This is only the second time I’ve done interviews for my writing (the first time is linked here), but I’ve decided I really enjoy […]

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[…] Gold’s How Do You Decide On Your Author Brand? – Part 1 and Part […]

Violetta
Violetta

This is going to be hard for me to internalize, no matter how much I wish my vanity-published ebook(s) would sell: I have social anxiety and no appropriateness filters. Or to be more precise, I have social anxiety BECAUSE I have no appropriateness filters. I had to delete my Facebook and Twitter accounts as an artificial filter, and I very rarely post on forums or blogs. I even more rarely stick around to witness the fallout afterward. I wrote out a couple of text walls on this very site before realizing no one wanted to know my life story and cancelling the comments.

Am I completely screwed?

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[…] I’ve frequently talked about branding on this blog, but I’ve always had the attitude that our brand is simply the impression others have of us.  Our brand is not something separate from us that we’re building over in that far corner.  Our brand is the culmination of everything people see us say and do.  If we want others to see us in a certain light, then we have to be that person.  Branding isn’t a magic potion to erase our weaknesses and reveal only our strengths. […]

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[…] Gold’s How Do You Decide On Your Author Brand? – Part 1 and Part […]

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[…] many ways, our brand is all about choosing which “facets” of the real us we want to make public. Our brand is us, but it’s also about showing the best and most interesting parts of us to […]

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[…] Gold’s How Do You Decide On Your Author Brand? – Part 1 and Part […]

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